Saturday 27 December 2014

Security at Peru Two jail tightened following prisoner suicide

Published 08/01/2014 | 11:48

Melissa Reid, right, and Michaella McCollum
Melissa Reid, right, and Michaella McCollum

SECURITY at the jail where the Peru Two are serving time for drugs trafficking was tightened today after a prisoner suicide.

Prison guards were ordered to keep close watch on inmates after a Spanish woman hanged herself with a scarf.

Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum were told of the shock news by fellow prisoners at Lima's Virgen de Fatima jail where they have started their six year eight month sentences after being convicted of trying to smuggle EUROS 1.8 million worth of cocaine out of Peru.

The dead woman was named as Tania Rodriguez.

Local media said she was suffering depression after her fight to get a 26 year jail sentence for drugs trafficking reduced was rejected.

She was found dead yesterday/on Tuesday in her cell at Santa Monica women's prison in the Lima district of Chorillos.

Melissa, from Lenzie near Glasgow and Michaella, from Dungannon, northern Ireland, were told to expect a transfer to the jail after their sentences.

They are still thought to be at Virgen de Fatima prison a 10-minute drive away in the same neighbourhood.

They are expected to apply for a transfer to Britain shortly so they can serve part of their sentence near their devastated families.

The two women pleaded guilty last month after weeks protesting their innocence following their arrests last August at Lima's Jorge Chavez airport with more than five kilos of cocaine each in their suitcases.

They are still insisting they were coerced into flying to south America to collect the drugs by an armed gang that kidnapped them in Ibiza where they were working over the summer.

Melissa's dad Billy, 53, said after they were sentenced: "We think the sentence is too harsh and doesn't sit with the crime that was committed."

A Peru prison service source said: "A closer watch will be kept on all prisoners over the next few days following the Spanish woman's death.

"We know this sort of incident hits other prisoners hard, especially foreign prisoners who are thousands of miles from their homes."

The vast majority of foreign women in Peruvian jails are convicted drugs traffickers.

Melissa and Michaella were warned after being sentenced they may not be eligible for a sentence reduction, meaning they could be forced to serve the full jail term.

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